How to Read a Downhill Putt

By Steve Silverman

Putting the ball with confidence and touch is one of the most difficult parts of the game of golf to master. This is especially true with a downhill putt. Most downhill putts are frought with peril. Hit it too hard, and you can end up off the green and be forced to pick up a pitching wedge to get back on. If you misread the green, you won't be able to account for the break in the green that will force your putt off course.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Step 1
Get the big picture as you walk up the fairway and toward the green. If your ball is sitting above the hole and you are facing a downhill putt, you may be able to notice a tilt or an angle on the green. If you do, you will have to take that into account before you putt.
Step 2
Get 10 feet behind your ball on the green and study your putt before you hit it. Since it is a downhill putt, you know it is likely to pick up speed as it goes on its journey toward the hole. But the ball may also break right or left. You have to look carefully sometimes to read these breaks and play them accordingly.
Step 3
Watch your playing partners hit their putts. If someone in your foursome is also facing a downhill putt and she hits her shot before you hit yours, you can learn more about the speed, the break and the angle that you have to play your putt. Pay attention when others are putting.
Step 4
Walk up to your ball and take one practice swing and then hit it. Many golfers get anxious as they consider their putts. They start to worry about everything that could go wrong and wait 30 seconds, 45 seconds, a minute or longer. This leads to tension in the hands, and that will hurt you when it comes to hitting your putt with touch.
Step 5
Practice your putting stroke before you begin your round of golf. Go to the putting green and hit 10 to 15 putts to gain touch and feel around the green.

Tips & Warnings

Hit the ball hard enough to get it rolling down the ridge you will have to get past. Then let gravity take it the rest of the way.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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